July 20, 2020

Reed, Whitehouse Press Trump Administration To Reverse Move Undermining COVID-19 Hospital Data Collection

Move to circumvent CDC raises urgent questions about transparency and data accuracy

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have joined U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and 43 of their Democratic Senate colleagues in writing to Vice President Mike Pence and Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, urging the Trump Administration to reverse recent changes requiring hospitals to report data to a new system set up by the Department of Health and Human Services instead of the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), which is run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has been in use for over a decade.

“We write today to urge you to withdraw your confusing and harmful changes to hospital reporting requirements for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).  In the midst of a global pandemic, these changes pose serious challenges to the nation’s response by increasing the data management burden for hospitals, potentially delaying critical supply shipments, compromising access to key data for many states, and reducing transparency for the public.  The Trump Administration’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 response and refusal to heed public health expertise continue to put the country in a dangerous position,” write the Senators

The letter details how the sudden switch to the new system could undermine the COVID-19 response on several fronts: hospitals unable to switch within 48 hours could lose access to critical supplies; states that have built their own response and data systems on the NHSN could lose access to critical information; and the decision to circumvent CDC could lead to disruption in the data collected, questions about its accuracy, and hampered access for public health experts and the general public.

Before posing several questions to Administration about the shift, the Senators’ letter concludes, “Without adequate data, the country has been unable to appropriately adjust our response to COVID-19—a reality highlighted by the dearth of reliable data on the heavy burden of COVID-19 on communities of color and other vulnerable populations.  The American people deserve to know the true scope of the pandemic, and that can only happen if public health experts lead in collecting and reporting data accurately and transparently.  By abruptly changing the reporting process by requiring hospitals to report to HHS and circumventing CDC, we are concerned there will be a disruption in the data collected and questions about the accuracy of that data.”

A PDF of the letter is available here.



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